Friday, May 4, 2012

Supermoon and Aquarid meteor shower: viewing tips for Saturday night, May 5

It’s a party in the night sky: the Supermoon and Aquarid meteor shower coinciding on Saturday night, Cinco de Mayo (May 5). This convergence of events is definitely cause for celebration if you’re a sky watcher. What are the best times and places to view these spectacles?

Let’s start with the Supermoon. Recall a Supermoon occurs when the moon is both making its closet approach to Earth and turning full. It happens about once a year.

This moon will appear up to 30 percent brighter and 14 percent bigger than the dullest moons. We reach Supermoon status at around 11:54 p.m. eastern time, but that’s not when the moon will appear most spectacular.

The moon will look biggest just as it’s rising over the eastern horizon.

In Washington, D.C., moonrise is at 7:55 p.m. Saturday evening (check your local moonrise times). So viewing will be best from just after that time through around 9 p.m. If you’re taking pictures, a subject in the foreground will make the Supermoon look even bigger.

As NASA describes: For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, low-hanging Moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects. On May 5th, this Moon illusion will amplify a full Moon that’s extra-big to begin with. The swollen orb rising in the east at sunset should seem super indeed. 

Read More from The Washington Post